Dade City proclaimed a “Monarch City USA”
On March 12, 2019, Camille S. Hernandez, Mayor of Dade City, Florida, on behalf of the entire Commission, proclaimed Dade City as a Monarch City USA. Mayor Hernandez urges all residents of Dade City to do their part by planting and protecting native milkweed and Monarch nectar sources so that the butterflies have the resources necessary to produce successive generations and sustain their spectacular 3,000-mile yearly migration to Mexico through Dade City and the State of Florida.
“There was a time when the butterfly was easily recognized by young and old alike as these big orange-winged butterflies that were seen everywhere, from gardens and weedy lots to golf courses. The Monarch was probably the first butterfly we caught as kids! But today, we hardly ever see a Monarch flying around,” said Mayor Hernandez.
After some research by the Dade City Garden Club, we now know that in the last 20 years over a billion butterflies have vanished, including over 90% of the Monarchs, according to data released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed and nectar plants for their food and homes. These plants, especially the native milkweed, have increasingly vanished from our countryside. The good news is that municipalities, community groups of all ages, and individual gardeners can help save the Monarchs with a few simple steps.
We can work together in Dade City to restore habitat for Monarchs where we live, work, learn, play, and worship. The City and the Garden Club envision Monarch habitats (waystations) at public parks, community gardens, schools, churches, and municipal buildings.
Dade City proclaimed the 5th “Monarch City USA”
With our designation of a Monarch City (only the 5th named city in Florida) the City has pledged to work with the garden club and the Pasco County Extension Service to provide public education opportunities to participants with the goal of teaching them how to become official butterfly waystations. By providing habitats all over Dade City residents, businesses and government entities can encourage Monarchs to stop in to pollinate, lay eggs, and produce caterpillars that produce more Monarch butterflies!
Dade City Garden Club Seminar featured Jim West of the first Monarch City USA
On March 16th, the Garden Club sponsored a successful seminar and plant sale. This is the first of a series of events and festivals to come that will educate the public on how to create butterfly and other pollinator waystation habitats. Over 45 people gathered to hear our amazing speaker, Jim West, from Deland (the first Monarch City USA in Florida) and to see and learn about the plants they needed to create the perfect Monarch waystation right in their own backyard.
Jim West is a native Floridian and was raised in a family which owned a flower shop, nursery, and landscape business. He developed a passion for gardening, and as a high school special needs teacher, Jim brought this passion to his students planted over 20 gardens on school campuses. In support of Deland, first Monarch City USA, Jim designed a 1,200 plant butterfly garden installed in Bill Dreggors Park.
Jim discussed the Monarch butterflies life cycle, migration, and the drastic decline in their population. He listed the main larval food (Milkweed) for Monarchs and then the nectar food flowering plants they preferred. His enthusiasm was contagious and there was a lively Q&A session as guests were amazed by the ease of creating a waystation in their yard. They were excited about experiencing the life cycle of these beautiful creatures so important to sustaining our food chain. TheMonarch butterflies’ voracious appetites lead to increased pollination of our fruits and vegetables.
Last Spring, what began as a discussion among garden club members has evolved into what we hope will be a movement. One that will bring together the young and the old, our families and businesses, churches and politicians – all working together to create a successful and spectacular Dade City “Monarch City USA”.
** Story and photos provided by Sally Redden on behalf of the Dade City Garden Club.